February 3, 2021: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan community,

Greetings. I am looking forward to students’ return to campus in just a few short days.

Wesleyan’s staff has been hard at work in the lead-up to the new semester, and we’re confident that we are prepared to have the safest possible environment on campus this spring, as we did in the fall. Yet we also know that we are beginning our new semester in a very different public health climate. It is the coldest part of the year when most activity will be indoors (which we know to carry a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission), and the positivity rate, hospitalizations, and deaths are all at much higher levels across the country compared to the fall. Perhaps most concerning to medical experts is the rapid emergence of several new variant strains of the virus, and our lack of capacity to identify them in labs.

February 2, 2021: Arrival Day Testing

Dear students,

We are looking forward to seeing many of you back in Middletown this week! As you work through your final preparations to return to campus, I write with important information on testing.

As you know, all students are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 5–7 days before leaving home and upload a negative test result to WesPortal. This is an important step to keep the campus community safe as people are returning for the second semester. We understand that some students have encountered difficulty with their test as a result of the winter weather. For those who are unable to get a pre-arrival PCR test result, at this point a rapid antigen test will suffice. In addition, Wesleyan will have limited capacity to administer a rapid COVID-19 test in addition to the required PCR test upon arrival.

January 28, 2021: Preparing for Student Move-In

Dear students,

With the start of spring semester nearly upon us, I write with an update from Middletown, where the campus is freshly blanketed in snow.

We have been preparing for student move-in, which will take place February 5–8. After consulting with public health officials and carefully reviewing and refining our health and safety protocols, we believe we have a clear plan for students to safely return to campus. As always, we will rely on all students, faculty, and staff to do their part in following safety guidelines at all times to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because the COVID positivity rate in Connecticut and across the United States is higher than when we began the fall, we will need everyone’s renewed attention as we begin the semester. Students should read the updated COVID Code of Conduct for spring, and acknowledge it in WesPortal, where it is posted as an alert. Students will also need to upload a negative result from their pre-arrival COVID test in WesPortal.

January 27, 2021: A Safe Campus Where Wesleyans Can Thrive

Dear friends,

As we prepare for the start of the next semester, we are mindful of the hopes and anxieties of students and their families. Vaccine distribution is finally picking up speed, promising better times ahead. On the other hand, the new variants of the virus seem to be more contagious, and this means we must be ever more vigilant about social distancing, mask wearing, frequent testing, contact tracing and supportive isolation.

I recently met with the presidents of the other NESCAC schools, and we have decided that given the current public health situation we cannot yet approve intercollegiate competition for this semester. Although it seems unlikely that we will have even a truncated season, we agreed to revisit the possibility of conference contests at the end of February. The NESCAC decision will come as a disappointment to many who have worked long and hard for the chance to compete, and I understand their frustration. Be that as it may, the fact that some athletes have asked about their spring seasons should not be an occasion for others to cast aspersions or crude stereotypes. The Wesleyan community is a place for all of us to pursue activities through which we develop as individuals and as members of groups or teams. Like so many Wesleyans, I would love to watch our athletes compete, as I would be delighted to see our musicians play and our actors perform. We all will have to wait until it is safe enough to do so.

January 21, 2021: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Dear colleagues,

I hope this finds you all well. Many of you are likely wondering about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Connecticut and our plans for the Wesleyan community. We are strongly encouraging all our employees to be vaccinated, and are following state guidelines regarding eligibility for vaccinations.

Currently, Connecticut is in Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, in which those age 75 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. Employees who fall into this category can find information about scheduling an appointment for their vaccine on the state’s website or eligible employees may contact the Middletown Senior Center for information about its vaccination clinics at (860) 638-4549 or seniorvaccine@middletownct.gov.

January 20, 2021: New Year, New Semester

Dear friends,

It’s a new year, or so we’ve been told. The pandemic continues to rage, as does the intensity of focus on the baffling words and deeds of the former president. But it is a new year—there will be vaccines and concentrated efforts to address the recession, and here at Wesleyan we are preparing to welcome back students for the spring semester. Starting a few weeks later than usual, combined with careful testing and quarantine protocols around arrival, should allow us to start off on the right foot, despite the high positivity rates around the country.

January 14, 2021: Preparing to Return to Campus

Dear students,

Happy New Year! I hope this note finds you well, and that you have been enjoying a restful break. I write today with important information regarding our plans for the spring semester.

Members of the University community are very much looking forward to having students back in Middletown. Our experience in the fall allowed us to test and fine-tune our safety processes and protocols, and we feel confident that we have strong systems in place to limit the spread of COVID on campus. It will require all of us to be diligent in order to keep Wesleyan safe.

However, we are also mindful of the high levels of COVID spread in many parts of the country, and worrying news about new variants of the virus. Our plan remains to begin the spring semester in early February, with students permitted to return to campus beginning February 5, and spring semester classes starting February 9. We will alert you immediately if we determine that health conditions necessitate adjusting this schedule.

January 14, 2021: Public Health Update

To the Wesleyan community,

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and safe 2021!

Many of us are feeling optimistic at the start of this new year with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign underway. Research and development as well as production of vaccines has occurred at an extremely fast pace, and two vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna have received Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It seems likely that other vaccines may be approved soon. The vaccine roll-out has hit some stumbling blocks, with variation across states in the criteria and systems being used to deliver the vaccines.

With that being said, 2021 has also certainly started with COVID-19 challenges. We have seen increasing numbers of cases and hospitalizations across the country and in the state of Connecticut. As I write this, the positivity rate in Connecticut approaches 11 percent—the highest we have seen since the onset of the pandemic. In addition, variants, or mutant strains, of the SARS CoV-2 virus appear to be significantly more transmissible, contributing to greater spread of the virus, though thankfully not a more severe illness. Post-holiday surges resulting from travel and gatherings in late December may continue to increase the already-high positivity rates over the next several weeks. And cold weather is keeping most of us indoors, where there is a higher risk of the virus spreading. Meanwhile, recent reports show that more than half of COVID cases were contracted from a person who was either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, reinforcing that we can never let our guard down with SARS CoV-2 around. Thankfully, reduced travel and COVID prevention measures seem to be contributing to a very light flu season thus far, which is important as the confluence of a bad flu outbreak and COVID-19 could rapidly overwhelm our already-taxed health care systems.

January 12, 2021: Update on Testing Schedule

Dear colleagues,

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed a safe and restful break, and are feeling energized for the new semester.

I write to update you on the testing schedule for this month. Please recall that throughout January, testing is limited only to those positions designated as essential personnel (Facilities and Public Safety) and to those positions that directly support students on campus. Testing for other employees will resume on February 8. Please direct any questions to your supervisor. More information on testing is available on the Keep Wes Safe website.

Please note the testing schedule for the remainder of January:

December 22, 2020: Winter Break Testing Schedule

Dear colleagues,

Just ahead of winter recess, I write with a reminder of the testing schedule and a clarification on who should be testing over break.

The schedule for once-weekly COVID testing in Beckham Hall will be adjusted due to the holidays.

Testing will take place today, Dec. 22 and Tuesday, Dec. 29 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For the month of January, beginning Jan. 6, testing will return to Wednesdays from 7 a.m.­­ to 4 p.m.

Throughout January, testing will be limited only to those positions designated as essential personnel and to those positions that directly support students remaining on campus over break. Other employees should not be testing on campus but will resume testing for the spring semester in early February. Please direct any questions to your supervisor.